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UK launches crackdown on rogue Indian-origin landlords

Raids by officials against “beds in sheds” have led to the arrest of many illegal Indian immigrants in London areas such as Hounslow, Southall, Croydon and Wembley. Similar illegal renting has been reported from other cities.

world Updated: Jan 23, 2016 01:04 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Indian-origin landlord

Raids by officials against “beds in sheds” have led to the arrest of many illegal Indian immigrants in London areas such as Hounslow, Southall, Croydon and Wembley.(AFP File Photo)

Britain has launched a crackdown on rogue Indian-origin and other landlords who rent out slum-like accommodation in garden sheds to illegal immigrants from the Indian subcontinent and other regions.

Raids by officials against “beds in sheds” have led to the arrest of many illegal Indian immigrants in London areas such as Hounslow, Southall, Croydon and Wembley. Similar illegal renting has been reported from other cities.

New funding for the crackdown was announced on Friday, ahead of the enforcement from February 1 of the legal requirement for all landlords in England to carry out “right to rent” checks to ensure potential tenants are legally allowed to rent property.

Housing minister Brandon Lewis said councils across the country will be given a £5 million cash boost to take on “irresponsible landlords” who force tenants to live in squalid and dangerous properties.

The councils that will receive funding include those that have a large population of Indian origin, such as Hounslow, Brent, Croydon, Derby and Birmingham.

The funding will also allow councils to root out more “beds in sheds”. Since 2011, nearly 40,000 inspections have taken place in properties and more than 3,000 landlords are facing further enforcement action or prosecution.

Lewis said: “We are determined to tackle these rogues, which is why we are providing 48 councils with extra funding, so they can get rid of the cowboy operators in their area and bring an end to tenants living in miserable homes in the name of profit.”

In several cases, “tenants” in such accommodation are Indian citizens who are in Britain illegally, and turn to landlords of Indian origin with settled status to provide them shelter. In the process, they face exploitation but are unable to approach authorities because of their illegal immigration status.

An official note on the situation said: “’Beds in sheds’ are often rented to migrants, including some with no right to be in the UK, at extortionate rates. Their foreign ‘tenants’ often find it difficult to return home quickly after destroying their passports to avoid removal.”

It adds: “With few other options, they will put up with cramped conditions, dodgy wiring and poor sanitation as an alternative to life on the streets.”